By WECT Staff | March 20, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT – Updated March 20 at 5:50 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners issued a state of emergency on Friday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release, the declaration limits gatherings of more than 10 people and closes public beach access points to ensure social distancing to limit the spread of the contagious virus.
The state of emergency will apply to the unincorporated areas of the county, the city of Wilmington, and all beach communities.
County officials said they coordinated with all municipalities within the county on the terms of the state of emergency. At this time, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach have issued their own state of emergency declarations.
“The state of emergency provides consistency across all of New Hanover County and promotes social distancing to help protect us each individually, as well as others,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “We know limiting gatherings and beach access can be inconvenient for our community, but it is an important step to keep our residents safe. We are being proactive so that we don’t have to close other facilities or important services in our community, and we need people to take this order seriously. The more we can do now to limit the spread of this virus, the better.”
Bridges are still open, and businesses on the islands will continue to operate, abiding by the current Governor’s orders. Only public access to the beach strands is prohibited at this time. Residents are encouraged to support local businesses by using online services, purchasing gift cards and ordering takeout or delivery.
The county will also close public restrooms at all county parks until further notice. This is due to the higher level and frequency of cleaning and sanitation recommended for high volume public restrooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The county’s parks and gardens remain open, but visitors cannot congregate in groups of more than 10 and must maintain a distance of six feet from one another.
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